Last month, former President Donald Trump made a video announcement about his plans to implement a ‘quantum leap forward’ policy to increase the standard of living in America. He boldly harkened back to the days of Manifest Destiny, of an America that once tamed a continent and built incredible cities from coast-to-coast.
In a video address detailing this policy, the plan is to build new “Freedom Cities” that would be built on pre-existing government-owned land. A way for the American Machine to be restarted once again, to help revitalise the economy through domestic infrastructure projects, bringing back large-scale industrial manufacturing to the United States, and hopefully drawing citizens who are struggling in their own states with rental traps and shoddy housing opportunities to start anew in these proposed cities.
“Reigniting American imagination” as Trump himself puts it.
Personally, I think this is a great idea. It is high time that the United States needs a project such as this to really kick things into gear and realise just what Americans are capable of building when they are not distracted by foreign wars, social malaise, and being at each other’s throats.
Trump’s plan could act as a foundation to creating classically-designed, bold and truly great examples of American civil engineering and architecture. Not only this, but by perhaps emphasising walkable cities, with a second-to-none public transport network (my formerly proposed Great American Hyper-Rail) – it could serve as an inspiration for other American cities to change for the better.
An American city that could be free from needless congestion, have architecture that challenges the glass-and-steel shitboxes for dominance, and creates real job opportunities and a sense of community for the younger generations would be a very welcome change indeed.
Moreso, if conservatives and reactionaries populate these cities primarily (if not exclusively), they could act as much needed metropolitan safe-zones free from the common strife as well as the severe and petty crime that infects most of urban America today.
While we may not have control of the cities today, it doesn’t mean that we can’t create our own cities tomorrow to act as a powerbase for us to focus our efforts and project them onto rival cities.
All in all, a great and visionary proposal from President Trump.
However there is one thing that was tacked-on to this announcement which has me confused, if not completely mortified by.
Trump proposed that the United States should become the leader in developing ‘vertical take-off and landing’ vehicles – VTOLs, for short. He mentioned that currently “Chy-na!” is spearheading current developments of this technology, for both military and civilian use.
Now, while I get excited by the idea of Jetson-style vehicles as much as the next bloke, tutting along in big glass-domed vehicles. But I can’t help but think that having VTOLs becoming widely available for public and government use is, simply put, a fucking terrible idea.
I may sound like a luddite here, but I ask you to reflect on the changing nature of personal transport in just the last 100 years.
The car and combustion-engine, great inventions as they are (and one that I am demonstrably pro), have completely reshaped the way we get around. From the way our cities are laid out, to the way we travel across the country. We have reshaped entire landmasses to be more suited to automobiles – detonating mountains, building massive highways and turnpikes over natural landscapes. It has completely and possibly irreversibly changed both the aesthetic and function of the natural landscape that human-beings inhabit forever.
There are few areas now in nature where you can look over an unspoiled landscape that hasn’t been in some way corrupted by roads, highways, or massive bridges. The places that are few and far between, and they are hard to reach by design.
The whole point of going on massive hikes like the Appalachian Trail for example, is to get away from these reminders of modernity and industry. If we had VTOLs readily available for anyone to use, these final frontiers of natural escape would be corrupted by the sounds of engines, and the sights of zooming aerial vehicles overhead.
It’s bad enough already when you see hordes of foreign tourists powering up their obnoxious drones drowning out the songs of the birds or the sound of the wind through the trees, or teenagers with loudspeakers blasting grime or whatever unpleasant trap shit that comes onto their Spotify.
Imagine that same annoyance, amplified, en masse and inescapable. To look over a landscape, and to see lines of VTOL traffic from one end of the horizon to the other.
I’d be inclined to shoot these aerial vehicles down in whatever way I could, fully embracing the primal nature that has long been cornered and dormant, finally being unleashed when all sense of greenery and the peace of nature has been corrupted.
Not only this, but aerial vehicles means aerial billboards.
Hell, it’s already starting to happen across the world – massive drone light displays sponsored by our corporate overlords carpeting the sky and blocking our view of the stars. The sky, long-untouched other than by those who are able to navigate it by plane, will simply become another piece of real-estate to be bought up.
Who has the rights to the sky? Those who can afford it, of course.
I can’t think of anything worse than being forced into a scenario where I also have to purchase the real-estate over my house in order to avoid being pestered with unwanted ads, VTOL trespassing, and eyes in the sky.
Perhaps that last example is a little dramatic, but I find it easier to rule nothing out these days, no matter how ridiculous.
The final aspect of why personal VTOLs are such a terrible idea is that it’s completely impractical. With aerial traffic already incredibly congested by planes (look on a free online plane-tracker if you don’t believe me) how does anyone sensibly propose the idea that giving everyone access to the sky won’t lead almost inevitably to disaster?
Car accidents are frequent enough as it is – I can only imagine how much worse, and deadly, they’d be in the sky.
Well to avoid all these issues there would have to be certain controls. Limitations on altitude, certain lanes that aerial vehicles must stick to to avoid collisions, speed limitations, etc, etc. Congratulations, you’re doing all the things that you would’ve been doing in a car anyway, except you are doing them 30-40 metres in the air instead. Such a revolutionary change!
Not to mention, what are these vehicles supposed to look like?
Will they be jet-powered? Say goodbye to little Timmy’s face after he accidentally was standing under one that was flying too low coming in for a landing, and say hello to a frequency of forest-fires!
Will they be powered by rotary propellers? Incredible! You’ve reinvented the helicopter! True leaps and bounds in technology!
Compared to “flying cars”, even personal jetpacks look like more sensible and well thought-out solutions to our current transport problems. Realistically, the only practical implementation of VTOL technology would be usage through military application – and, practically speaking, it already exists through helicopters.
The idea is silly – so how Trump has seriously considered it to the point of outlining it in a policy video makes me laugh. I do sincerely hope that it will remain a mere gimmick of the “futurist” dream, rather than become a reality that will make the world a considerably worse place.